Resplendent quetzal anyone? In the Monteverde Cloud Forest you’ll find coatis, monkeys and dazzling hummingbirds. The Osa Peninsula has tapir, the elusive jaguar and scarlet macaws – plus an underwater reserve with a coral garden and visiting humpback whales, pilot whales and dolphin.
Visit Manuel Antonio National Park and monkeys, agoutis, sloth and iguanas will be your companions – unless you decide to stay on the immaculate beaches nearby.
London – San Jose
Your direct flight from London leaves Gatwick just before midday and lands you in San Jose later in the afternoon. After being taken to your hotel – just 15 minutes from the centre of San Jose – you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the views of the valley and coffee plantations of Santo Domingo de Heredia.
Next day you’ll be invited to join a tour of the beautiful La Paz Waterfall Gardens – a rescue reserve with over 40 different species of birds and wildlife. Here you can expect to see ocelots, margays, black handed spider monkeys, capuchin, sloths and great exhibitions of snakes, frogs, butterflies and insects and may even spot the elusive jaguar. There’s even a hummingbird garden featuring 26 different species.
Stay: Two nights in a junior suite at the Hotel Bougainvillea.
Tortuguero National Park
You make an early start by transferring to La Pavona Dock where you’ll board your boat bound for your hotel on the edge of Tortuguero National Park. With its network of canals and unspoiled rainforest, this is an exciting destination for nature lovers – especially birdwatchers.
The park features a wonderful diversity of wildlife, including more than 300 species of birds, 60 mammals, 57 types of amphibians, 111 reptiles, three different marine turtles, 30 species of fresh water fish including the gar – regarded as a living fossil. Small wonder Tortuguero is one of the most highly regarded nature reserves in Costa Rica.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at the Manatus Hotel.
Today you’ll be heading to Monteverde, a journey that takes you by plane from Tortuguero Airport to Arenal, then by boat across Lake Arenal. A 90 minute drive through scenic countryside brings you to your lodge at Monteverde. It’s the perfect position for trips into the Monteverde Cloud Forest, just 15 minutes away, and your half day tour takes you into Curicancha Reserve with its network of nature trails leading from the dry Pacific Forest to the heights of the cloud forest.
You can expect to see a real abundance of tropical flora in this protected area, as well as amazing hummingbirds and even rare species like the resplendent quetzal if you’re very lucky. More common will be encounters with mammals like coatis, and the indigenous monkeys that may jump right out onto the path in front of you.
Stay: Two nights in a forest view balcony room at Monteverde Lodge.
Now you journey to San Jose for your flight to Drake Bay and an entrancing boat trip through mangrove estuaries to your luxury eco-lodge on the edge of Corcovado National Park. Here you’ll explore one of the last remaining Pacific lowland rainforests. It’s regarded as one of the most biologically intense spots on the planet, so you can expect to encounter Costa Rica’s largest trees as well as tapir, sloths and scarlet macaws, to name but a few.
You’ll also be able to take a snorkelling tour in the clear, warm waters off Cano Island to see the famous Coral Garden, a marine reserve packed with colourful fish and unusual marine creatures. In season you may even spot humpback whales, pilot whales and dolphin.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe bungalow at Casa Corcovado Lodge.
Return to Drake Bay’s airstrip for your flight to Ouepos from where you’ll be taken to Esterillos and your beachside hotel. When you tire of lazing on fine sand you can wander through the resort’s tropical gardens or take an excursion through the nearby Manuel Antonio National Park. This park may be the smallest in Costa Rica but it offers a truly impressive collection of diverse habitats, including rainforests, white-sand beaches, coral reefs and rocky coves.
The forest itself has massive fig trees, two- and three-toed sloths, green and black iguanas, agoutis, four species of monkeys, and nearly 200 species of birds. And because many of the creatures are used to encountering humans along the nature trails, you can see and photograph them at close quarters.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe beachfront villa at the Alma del Pacifico.
San Jose – Madrid – London
A three hour trip takes you back to San Jose where your evening flight will land you in Madrid for your connection to London Heathrow, arriving there in the afternoon of the following day.